sources of calcium image

Calcium is important at all ages for strong bones and teeth. This Food Fact Sheet lists how much calcium different people need, what foods and drinks are good sources, and how you can add it to your diet.

Why do I need calcium?

Calcium is a mineral that is needed to maintain strong bones. It is also needed for healthy muscle and nerve function.

How much calcium do I need?

Table 1 - Daily guideline amounts


Age (years)

Calcium (mg) per day


Under 1











800 (girls)

1000 (boys)




Those who are breastfeeding



Coeliac Disease





700 (up to 1000 on osteoporosis drug treatments)

Inflammatory Bowel disease (while taking corticosteroids)*



* Discuss the need for a calcium supplement with your doctor or dietitian.

You are more at risk of calcium deficiency if you:

Limited evidence suggests that some older adults may benefit from higher intakes.

Where do I get calcium from?

Calcium in dairy products


Calcium (mg)

Cow’s milk, including Lactose free



Sheep’s milk



Goat’s milk















Cheese triangle

1 triangle (15-17.5g)


Yoghurt (plain)


181 (low fat)

193 (whole)

Fromage frais

1 pot (47-85g)


Rice pudding or custard pots

1 pot (55g)


Malted milk drink 

25g serving in 200ml semi-skimmed milk


Rice pudding

½ large tin (200g)


Custard - tinned

1 serving (120ml)


Milk chocolate



Non dairy sources of calcium

Calcium-fortified products

Calcium-fortified plant-based alternatives to milk e.g. soya, oat, nut, coconut, pea, rice* drinks

100 ml


Soya bean curd/tofu (only if set with calcium chloride (E509) or calcium sulphate (E516), not nigari)

100g (uncooked weight)


Calcium-fortified soya, coconut or oat yoghurt and soya dessert or custard 



Calcium-fortified coconut cheese

1 portion (30g)


Calcium-fortified infant cereals

1 serving (20g)


Calcium-fortified cereals

30g serving


Calcium-fortified instant hot oat cereal

1 tbsp dry cereal (15g)


Calcium-fortified bread

1 slice (37-50g)


Sardines (with bones) (in tomato sauce, olive oil, brine)

½ tin (60g)


Pilchards (with bones)

1 serving (60g)


Tinned salmon (with bones)

½ tin (106g)

115 (pink)

174 (red)


1 small portion (50g)


Scampi in breadcrumbs

6 pieces (90g)


White bread

2 large slices (100g)


Wholemeal bread

2 large slices (100g)


Pitta bread/chapatti

1 portion (65g)



1 medium (120g)


Broccoli, boiled

2 spears (85g)



100g boiled


Spring greens

1 serving (75g)


*Children under four and a half years old should not have rice drinks as a replacement for cow’s milk, breast milk or infant formula.

Calcium absorption

Spinach, dried fruits, beans, seeds and nuts contain calcium but they also contain oxalates and/or phytates which reduce how much calcium your body can absorb from them. They have therefore not been listed and you should not rely on them as your main sources of calcium.

Can I get enough calcium in a vegan diet? 

Yes! There are lots of plant-based foods and drinks that contain calcium listed in the table above. 

Many plant-based alternatives to dairy products in the UK are fortified with calcium (they have extra calcium added to them). Calcium-set tofu and calcium-fortified bread are good options to include as your main sources of calcium.

It is important to check that the products you are buying contain added calcium as many organic products, for example, are not fortified. Without added calcium, these foods and drinks do not have a noticeable amount of calcium.

Note that most plant-based alternatives to dairy, like rice, oat or nut drinks, contain less protein and calories than cow’s milk.

Meals and snack ideas

  • Start the day with cereal (many are calcium-fortified) with milk (or a calcium-fortified milk plant-based alternative.
  • Use tinned sardines or pilchards (with the bones) instead of tuna in a sandwich or on toast.
  • Have a stir fry including calcium-set tofu, broccoli spears and chopped nuts. 
  • If your child will not drink milk, include milk and milk alternatives in meals and snacks instead.
  • Add yoghurt (or a calcium-fortified plant-based alternative) to fruit as a pudding or use milk or a milk substitute (calcium-fortified) to make custard and milk puddings.
  • Include foods containing dairy or a plant-based alternative e.g. lasagne, cheese on toast, pancakes, naan breads, scones.
  • Try a glass of low-fat milk or a plant-based alternative as a snack or to help rehydrate after exercising.

Healthy lifestyle advice for healthy bones

  • Be active - weight-bearing activities like walking, aerobics, cycling, running and tennis are best. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity, five times a week.
  • Smoking is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis, low bone density and increased risk of hip fracture. Stopping smoking prevents further excess bone loss.

Vitamin D and calcium

Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium from foods. For more information about how to meet your requirements see our Vitamin D fact sheet.

Calcium supplements

It is best to get enough calcium from food. If you are unable to meet your daily requirements from food alone, you can take supplements to top up your intake. If you are taking medicines, other supplement products, or if you think you need more than 500mg of extra calcium; it advisable to discuss this with a pharmacist, doctor or dietitian.

Top tips 

  • Getting enough calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth & muscle and nerve function.
  • You need Vitamin D to absorb the calcium in your diet. 
  • Don’t forget, low-fat dairy products have the same amount of calcium as the full-fat versions.
  • Remember to check plant-based alternatives to dairy have added calcium (often called ‘fortified’). Most organic products are not calcium-fortified. 
  • Most people can get enough calcium from a varied and nutritious diet, but there are supplements available if this is difficult for you.


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